Merck & Co (known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada) said Tuesday that a Keytruda combination therapy has significantly improved survival rates for lung cancer patients as a first-line treatment.
The anti PD-1 therapy combined with Eli Lilly’s Alimta (pemetrexed) and platinum chemotherapy produced statistically significant results in the KEYNOTE-189 trial, the company said.
The study aimed to prove the cocktail therapy’s efficacy in meeting dual primary endpoints of overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS). The company has been seeking to expand Keytruda’s indication as a first-line treatment for metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
“KEYNOTE-189 showed significant improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival for patients receiving Keytruda in the first-line setting in combination with traditional chemotherapy, compared with those receiving chemotherapy alone,” said Merck Research Laboratories President Roger M. Perlmutter.
The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 KEYNOTE-189 study on 614 patients pitted a Keytruda, pemetrexed, and either cisplatin or carboplatin mix against a pemetrexed, and cisplatin or carboplatin combo.
Merck said it would present trial results at an upcoming medical meeting and submit them to regulatory authorities.
“We are deeply grateful to the KEYNOTE-189 patients and investigators for their important contributions to this landmark study, and we look forward to presenting the data in the near future,” Perlmutter added.
NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer and accounts for around 85 percent of all cases, the company said.
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